10 Easy Ways to Save Electricity (and Reduce Your Bill)

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Most of these ways to save electricity are absolutely free and you can get started right now. Changing your energy-consuming habits today could save you money on your electricity bill tomorrow (and every month after that).

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You don’t need 100 ways to save electricity in order to see a major difference on your next energy bill.

You just need information on our 10 proven ways to save electricity at home to get started.

It’s summer, the time of year for backyard grilling, lounging poolside, and…skyrocketing electric bills.

That last element isn’t something most people look forward to. But with these 10 ways to save electricity at home, you can rest assured you’re doing everything you can to protect the environment — and your wallet.

How to Save Money on Electricity for Free

Most of these ways to save electricity are absolutely free and you can get started right now. Changing your energy-consuming habits today could save you money on your electricity bill tomorrow.

1. Learn to set the air conditioning properly

save electricity pictures - wall thermostat for AC

Air conditioning is the cold elephant in the room when it comes to electric bills. Nothing beats walking into a cold wall of A/C after spending time outside during the summer.

While air conditioning keeps your house bearable in the summer, it’s by far the biggest drain on your wallet. Rethinking the way you use air conditioning can mean significant savings for you.

Start out with basic annual maintenance. This includes checking your air conditioning ducts before the weather heats up, changing the filters, and making sure the vents are actually open.

For the best results, you should change your air conditioner filter monthly.

On hot days, keep your house cool and your power bills lower by using the energy-saving option on your air conditioner, and leave it on when you’re not at home.

Turning the air conditioner on “high” once you walk in the door at night will actually raise your utility bills since the unit has to use much more energy to cool down a hot room.

You can save up to 10% a year on heating and cooling by simply turning back your thermostat 7°-10°F for 8 hours a day from its normal setting.

This is where programmable thermostats come in.

A programmable thermostat can save you tons of money over the long run (as in, thousands of dollars). If you don’t have one, consider making the investment. It’s also one of the easiest ways to save electricity because of the whole set-it-and-forget-it approach.

For instance, you can program your thermostat to stay at X degrees when no one is home but then bring your home back to your desired temperature (slowly) about an hour before you get home. That way, you don’t have to keep your house cool for the entire day when the house is empty.

That adds up to a lot of saved money.

In cold weather, you’ll save money by taking the same approach with your heat.

2. Unplug devices you’re not using

save electricity pictures - unplug outlets

All those smaller appliances and devices in your home don’t use much energy individually, but collectively they can really add up.

Did you know that anything you leave plugged in, like a toaster, coffee pot, etc. (even if they are turned off), continues to draw trace amounts of electricity from your outlets?

In fact, it’s estimated that this “vampire energy” could account for as much as 5% of residential energy use.[1]

Basically, if it’s plugged in, it is costing you small amounts of money that add up over time. But, there’s a workaround for this problem: power strips.

Instead of manually plugging and unplugging everything in your house each day, if you connect your items to a power strip and then simply turn that strip off when you aren’t using something, your items will not drain energy.

Some devices do use a fairly large amount of power, including computers. When you’re not using your computer, shut it off rather than let it “sleep.”

3. Shut curtains and close doors

It’s not rocket science…yet so many times people forget even the most basic ways to reduce summer cooling costs. Of all the ways to save electricity at home or at school, this is by far the easiest (and it’s free).

Keeping your curtains closed during the day keeps sunlight from heating up your home, reducing incoming heat by as much as 30%.

That’s additional heat for which your air conditioner doesn’t have to compensate!

Consider installing awnings on your south and west-facing windows to further reduce the amount of heat coming into your house.

Heat rises- it’s a simple fact of physics. If you have a two-story home, save on air conditioning costs by closing doors on the upper floors when you and the family are primarily downstairs.

Open the doors a half hour or so before bedtime.

Even if you have central air conditioning, consider installing window units in the bedrooms and using them at night instead of keeping the whole house cool. Since morning is the coolest part of the day, your house will probably feel comfortable when you wake up.

How to Save on Utility Bills in the Winter

In some areas, winter can potentially double your energy bill overnight. But thankfully these ideas can help you lower your utility bills in the winter to help compensate for the difference.

4. Inspect your insulation

No one cares more about your home than you do – including the person who built it. If said person did a shoddy job of insulating your attic you could be throwing away hundreds of dollars each and every year.

Energy.gov estimates that nearly 20% of your winter electric bill is made up of heat loss through your attic.[2]

Fortunately, fiberglass insulation is relatively inexpensive and is sure to save you money in the long run.

Tip: There are a ton of DIY tutorials on Google on insulating your own home with fiberglass insulation. Turn a Mike Rowe-esque type job into one of the more fun ways to save electricity with the whole family.

5. Install/replace weather stripping

Laziness is your wallet’s worst enemy. Odds are if I came and inspected your home right now, I’d find about 3 doorways with damaged or completely missing weather stripping; never mind the dozens of windows you have lining your home.

Do me a favor. Watch this neat video and then go and replace your weatherstripping immediately.

6. Consolidate your freezers

Have a freezer you’re only using for hunting season, or for just drinks? If it’s not full to the brim, consider consolidating things and unplugging it completely.

A second freezer in your home is putting up to a 400-watt drain on your total energy consumption. It’s also about $100.00 you’re throwing away annually if you’re barely using it.

More Energy Saving Ideas

If the above ways to save electricity don’t make a big enough dent in your electric bill, consider even more energy-saving ideas below.

7. Reduce large appliance energy waste

Even if your washer, dryer, and dishwasher are energy efficient, they account for other substantial portions of your electric bill. Fortunately, there are energy-saving tips you can use year-round to reduce these costs.

Start by living by these two basic rules (you’d be surprised how many people don’t follow these):

1. Only run full loads so that you run them less often.

2. Run your large appliances during off-peak hours– usually after 8 p.m. – when electric rates are lower.

Here are the best ways to save money with each appliance:

  • Washing machine – Do your laundry in cold water. Not only can you mix darker and lighter shades, but you save energy by avoiding the heating element. Your clothes still come out perfectly clean.
  • Dryer – This one is tougher, although you can opt for lower settings. The best way to save energy on clothes drying is to let the sun do it. Nothing beats the fresh scent of sun-dried laundry. Not everyone is able to do this – some towns have ordinances against laundry lines – and not everyone wants to, but think about giving it a try in warm weather.
  • Dishwasher – Your utensils, pots and pans, and dishes really don’t need to go through the heated dry cycle. If you don’t feel like drying them off the old-fashioned way with a dish towel, just leave the dishwasher door open and let the air take care of drying.

8. Turn off unnecessary lights

How many times did your mom yell at you growing up to turn off all the lights before you left the house?

About 4 billion times – and with good reason. According to bchydro, turning off just 2 100-watt light bulbs in your home for 2 hours a day can save you about $12 per year.[3]

Now just think about how many light bulbs you have in your house.

Now think about how much money you’re throwing away each and every year.

Stop that.

9. Take cold(er) showers

Water is expensive to heat. Really expensive. If you’re looking for ways to save electricity, start by knocking off a couple of minutes off your shower each day.

Besides the obvious benefit of using less water, you also save on electricity (hint: the water doesn’t just get hot on its own).

10. Ditch the oven

Ditching your oven is probably not one you thought of but an easy way to save on electricity nonetheless.

Using lower-wattage devices like toaster ovens, microwaves, and crock pots can save you big bucks. A microwave is nearly 4 times as energy-efficient as an oven. If you’re reheating food or cooking it for the first time, sacrificing a little “taste” is at least going to save you a little money.

Ben Huber

Hi! I'm Ben. A personal finance nerd on a mission to help DollarSprout readers make and save more money. A quoted contributor for Business Insider, Business.com, Discover, Intuit, MSN, NBC News, Yahoo Finance and more, I work to help others live their financial best life.

Eric Bowlin
Eric Bowlin

Good post with very helpful suggestions. We installed Nest Thermostat when we just moved into our new house. Spent around 300 out front, but it has been earned this amount back and saved us a fortune in TX heat.

Dena J Burch
Dena J Burch

Eric, I thought Jeff had great content too.

I am an Energy Broker in Texas (aka: I save people and businesses money on their electric bills) and I forwarded his column to a few of my clients looking for more ways to save on their energy consumption.

My services are free to my clients because I get paid by the electricity providers.

Blessings, Dena

Diane Orehek
Diane Orehek

Hi Jeff,

I wonder what you think about turning off the water heater for half of the day/night when our family is not using it. Helpful or crazy?

I actually haven’t experimented with that myself! I honestly don’t know if it would help in any significant way, but you never know.


I turn the hot water heater breaker on one hour before I take a bath. My son will be installing a timer.
I have saved a ton of money.

Clever, I don’t know for sure how much, but I’d suspect you could save between $100-$200/year by doing that!

Dena J Burch
Dena J Burch

Sherri, That is AWESOME! How did your son do that?

Jennifer Anthony
Jennifer Anthony

I’m curious as to what temperature (for each season) I should put the thermostat on to save money in an old apartment building?

Hey Jennifer!

The answer is as high or as low as you feel comfortable, depending on the season.

During the summer, the US Department of Energy recommends 78 degrees Fahrenheit. That may seem fairly high but it’s the target temperature point that saves the most money — if you settle a few degrees below that, it will help save you money.

The same goes for setting your heat during the winter. They recommend 68 (and as low as 62), but the lower you feel comfortable, the better. That way your thermostat system isn’t working as hard to stay ahead of the weather.

Hope that helps! 🙂

Thomas Young
Thomas Young

Don’t forget that if you are in a deregulated state, you can use a 3rd party supplier to lower your electric rate for even more savings.

Dena J Burch
Dena J Burch

Thomas, that is right! I suggest people use a broker, like myself.
We help people save more money by utilizing our group buying power with suppliers. People don’t realize how MUCH we can save them.

A LOT of folks I have seen use “energy ogre” and that is frustrating because services like that CHARGE their clients to help them. So paying them $120 a year isn’t saving at all! My services are FREE to my clients because we are paid by the suppliers we broker for.

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